LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Actor Johnny Depp and his wife, Amber Heard, issued a somber apology on video for smuggling their two dogs into Australia.
She pleaded guilty Monday to giving false information when she took their two Yorkshire terriers, Pistol and Boo, to Australia on his private jet last year. Depp was there filming the fifth “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie.
In the video, a grim-looking Depp said: “When you disrespect Australian law, they will tell you firmly.”
“I am truly sorry that Pistol and Boo were not declared,” Heard said on the video. “Protecting on Australia is important.”
Prosecutors dropped two serious charges that Heard illegally imported her dogs. A conviction on dog-smuggling could have sent her to prison for up to 10 years. Instead, Magistrate Bernadette Callaghan sentenced her to a one-month good behavior bond.
Depp was not charged over the so-called “war on terrier” that began last May. But he accompanied his wife to court and said little to the waiting throng of reporters and fans upon their arrival at the Southport Magistrates Court on Queensland state’s Gold Coast.
Australia has strict quarantine regulations to prevent diseases such as rabies from spreading to its shores. Bringing pets into the country requires applying for a permit and quarantine on arrival of at least 10 days.
“If we start letting movie stars — even though they’ve been the sexiest man alive twice — to come into our nation (with pets), then why don’t we just break the laws for everybody?” Joyce said at the time. “It’s time that Pistol and Boo buggered off back to the United States.”
Depp and Heard were given 72 hours to send Pistol and Boo back to the U.S., with officials warning that the dogs would otherwise be euthanized. The pooches boarded a flight home just hours before the deadline ran out.
The comments by Joyce, who is now the deputy prime minister of Australia, elevated what might otherwise have been a local spat into a global delight for comedians and broadcasters. One newspaper ran a doggie death countdown ticker on its website that marked the hours remaining before the dogs had to flee the country, and comedian John Oliver dedicated a more than 6-minute segment to lampooning the ordeal.
Depp himself poked fun at the drama during a press conference in Venice last year where he was asked if he planned to take the dogs for a gondola ride. “No,” he replied. “I killed my dogs and ate them, under direct orders from some kind of, I don’t know, sweaty, big-gutted man from Australia.”
When asked why Depp wasn’t charged as well, the prosecutor’s office said that there had been a “lack of admissible evidence” against anyone except Heard.
Heard’s lawyer, Jeremy Kirk, told the court on Monday that his client never meant to lie on her incoming passenger card by failing to declare she had animals with her.
In truth, Kirk said, she was simply jet-lagged and assumed her assistants had sorted out the paperwork. “She has made a tired, terrible mistake,” Kirk said.
Prosecutor Peter Callaghan said ignorance and fatigue were no excuse. “The laws apply to everyone,” he said.
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